Equal Opportunities Bill Suffers Setback In Enugu Assembly


Members of the
Enugu  State House of Assembly, turned down a bill seeking Equal Rights and Opportunities for Men and Women and Other Matters presented before it by one of its female colleagues, saying its contents are anti-African culture.
The Bill, sponsored by Hon. Nkechi Omeje-Ogbu,representing Nsukka West Constituency and House Committee Chairman on Gender Affairs, had scaled the first reading.
However, it suffered a setback during the House Tuesday’s plenary, as most members kicked viciously against the bill, arguing that it was anti-cultural as well as anti-African.
It was heading for total rejection when the Speaker, Hon. Edward Ubosi, intervened, and suggested that they should step it down to make room for further consultations.
The speaker appreciated the sponsor of the bill for her effort so far, saying that the bill should be stepped down for wider consultation and further debate on a later date.
He said that the assembly would not want to kill the bill pre-maturely even though majority of his members kicked against it.
The sponsor of the bill, Dame Omeje-Ogbu, had earlier posited that if passed into law, “the Enugu State Equal Opportunities Bill would protect all persons from discrimination on the basis of sex in the private and public spaces.
She said that the bill provided protection for women  bodies, integrity, human dignity, and would affirm their rights to equal opportunities to realize their full potentials.
Ogbu further stated that the bill, if passed, would be published so that any person who has any comments on all or any of the provisions may submit same to the clerk of the House.
The female lawmaker, equally stressed that the bill was seeking for positions, appointments of women of Enugu State, adding that neither marriage, divorce nor widowhood would deny women their rights.
She noted that Enugu State women should be given equal opportunities as men because they attended same school, got the same degree, and wondered why they should be discriminated against.
Ogbu also explained that the purpose of the bill was to give effect to chapters 2 to 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In his submission to the debate before it was stepped down, Hon. Sunny Ude- Okoye, the member representing Awgu North Constituency said that he would not be a party to such bill because here is Africa and not America.
Ude-Okoye suggested that if anybody wants such practice as suggested in the bill, such a person should go to America.
He pointed out that debating on the bill was a waste of time because the right of everybody, including women, has been provided for in the Constitution, stressing that there was something that meets the eye in the bill which he described as a deceit.
His word: “It is a total deceit, if you say 35%, it is deceit, why not say 50%.  I am saying that I am against the bill in its entirety, and will never be in support of it,” he insisted.
Also contributing, another lawmaker, Iloabuchi Aniagu, representing Nkanu West aligned him- self with Ude-Okoye, saying that the bill should be stepped down for further consultation.